Proper Oral Care in Babies – Things to Avoid for Good Oral Health
|March 2, 2010||Posted by healthsmartmom under Healthy Kids|
Proper oral care in babies really begins from day one. As a sleep deprived mom, certainly one of things on your mind may not be the condition of your babies teeth, especially if they haven’t even started showing yet. However, there are things that you can do now to help promote healthy teeth and gums, and if you take a few steps now, you will be glad you did later. Besides taking proper care and cleaning your baby’s teeth and gums, there are also some things that you need to avoid to promote good oral care in your infant.
One of the biggest issues for babies is sleeping with a bottle in their mouths. Even if you nurse, letting your baby fall asleep while nursing (or more accurately if you fall asleep while nursing) and letting the milk pool in your baby’s check and mouth can cause damage to your baby. Aside from the risk of choking when the liquid pools in the mouth (which should be enough for you to remove the bottle or breast from baby), sugar from the milk or formula settles in the mouth and on the teeth. This along with bacteria can damage the teeth and lead to decay. Once the child is asleep, remove the bottle and wipe their mouth with a clean wet washcloth or a specially designed tooth or gum brush.
Whether or not your baby uses a pacifier during the first year is often a matter of survival on the part of the parent and instinct on the part of the baby. Just remember to keep the pacifiers clean and avoid putting sticky sweet substances on them, as remnants of the sugar can remain and add to tooth decay. Actually you should avoid putting any substance on a pacifier other than water or non-toxic pacifier cleaning solutions.
However, after the first year, most pediatricians agree that babies should probably stop using a pacifier. Not only can prolonged pacifier use cause the teeth to move out of proper alignment, but a child with teeth that uses a pacifier can chew on it, thus making the pacifier a choking hazard if any part of it breaks off. Thumb sucking can also push the teeth forward. And the longer your child uses a pacifier or his thumb, the harder it is to break him of the habit. Believe me, it is a lot easier to get a one year old to forget about you taking their pacifier away than it is a two or three year old (who seem to have the long term memory of an elephant!)
Make sure you schedule your initial visit with your dentist – usually at the end of the first or second year. By this point, you will need to avoid all those foods that are just not good for anyone’s teeth.. Avoid things like popcorn that can get stuck between the teeth easily as well as sugary snacks such as candy and cookies which can cause build-up and decay. These things aren’t necessary for good health, and avoiding these things now will help your child avoid them later. Instead try substituting crunchy snacks such as apple slices, celery, and carrot sticks for older children. For younger ones, try some of the natural, sugar free teething biscuits and cereal snacks. Just be sure to clean out your child’s mouth after snacking and especially before bed.
If your child’s teeth are close together, you may also have to start flossing them. Avoid things like popcorn that can get stuck between the teeth easily as well as sugary snacks such as candy and cookies which can stick in those unseen spaces and cause build-up and decay. Also, most children should avoid chewing gum at this stage to avoid the choking hazard, however if you let your children chew gum, it is a good idea to use a sugar-free gum rather than a regular gum.
Once your baby has a good set of teeth in (usually at around one year) you can stop the tooth and gum wiping and graduate on to actual brushing. You will still need to be very gentle with tiny gums so as not to scratch them. Use a toothbrush specially designed for toddlers or a small, soft bristle brush. Using fluoride or non-fluoride toothpaste is up to the dentist, although in general the recommendation is to not use fluoride until the child is old enough to spit and not swallow the toothpaste. You can purchase fluoride free tooth cleansing gel at many pharmacies and stores. There is also a great children’s tooth gel with Xylitol, a natural sugar that has been shown to have a beneficial effect on enamel growth and strength.
Good oral care for children starts out as good oral care for babies. If you take the time now to establish good habits, you won’t have to fuss with them later to get them to brush their teeth, and trips to the dentist will be much more enjoyable (and less expensive!)
Article by Stefani Padilla, author, entrepreneur, home base business owner, wife and mom.
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